The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. -Frederick Buechner
Play detective with me today. The topic under investigation is calling. What does it mean to say “I have found my calling?”
The word calling is often used to describe our chosen vocation, lifework, craft or career. It’s the way we choose to spend our time or perhaps the activity we most enjoy. While we hope our calling overlaps to some degree with the source of income that pays our bills, calling is often larger, deeper and possibly even simpler than the job we do to make money. For many, calling might not include a paycheck.
Pursuing our calling is living life on purpose, driven towards or by something bigger than our self. Our calling is the thing we sense we are “supposed” to do. Many of my coaching clients are wrestling with a changing or emerging understanding of their calling or purpose in life. By virtue of their stage of life, my twenty-something daughters and their friends are also exploring this illusive, yet powerful concept.Discovering our calling is part of growing up, whatever our age. Click To Tweet
For people of faith, our calling is often connected to our sense of divine purpose- a belief that it is God who is doing the “calling.” Merriam-Webster defines a “calling” as: “…a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.” We believe the way of living and being to which we are drawn is part of God’s “will” for our life and part of the way He created us. Our gifts, talents, experiences, passions and unique circumstances are all clues on the path to our calling, the plan God has for our life.
Last week, I was talking (ok, texting) with my youngest daughter and she shared with me a powerful experience she had with the cast of the play she is currently directing. She even playfully said “my mom would call it a God-thing.” As we talked about her experience, I offered the observation that she was often moved deeply by the process of directing and I was curious to know if she found that significant. I even used the word calling as I wondered with her about why she found the process so meaningful. Here is her response (and yes, I asked her permission to share 🙂 )
I think it is a way to love people that is very natural for me. At the end of the day, directing is looking at people and finding the thing in them that is real and truthful, and helping them find it too. It’s really just loving people.
“A way to love people that is very natural for me.” Anybody else find that compelling?
So, work with me here: Jesus says the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and spirit and to love others as ourselves. When asked to boil down His message, Jesus said we are all called to love. For everyone who follows Jesus, love is our calling. If our collective calling is to love,Perhaps our individual calling is to discover and uncover the way we love best. Click To Tweet
Here are some examples of people I know who are embracing their calling:
- A business leader who pours himself into creating an environment where others have the opportunity to grow, learn, take chances and become their best and bravest selves.
- An artist who paints a whimsical painting for a friend whose family is fighting despair, heartache and seemingly insurmountable obstacles in hopes of making her smile.
- A recovering alcoholic who devotes his life to reaching out to other addicts to reassure them there is hope for a new life.
- A woman who begins a shawl ministry in order to turn her talent and love for knitting into a vehicle to bless people who are experiencing grief and loss.
What do these examples have in common? Generosity, creativity, authenticity, and a sense of purpose. In each case, these people have found a way of loving people that comes naturally. Because their first goal is to love others and honor God, their interest, passion, ambition or livelihood becomes something more compelling than it might be if seen through a more self-focused lense.Chasing your calling is brave. Click To Tweet
Note: I think this topic deserves further exploration and this post was getting too long, so I’m going to turn this into a series about calling. If you are interested in reading future posts, be sure to sign up for my mailing list in the box on the right.
Let’s make this a conversation. I invite you to answer any or all of these questions in the comments below.
- What is your calling? If you aren’t clear, can you name 3 things that are part of your calling?
- Does calling change over time or does calling remain the same?
- Might discontent with the status quo signal a change or deeper understanding of calling?
- Can you think of someone who inspires you by the way they live out their calling?
- Is calling the exclusive territory of people who believe in God?